WHAT IT'S LIKE BEING AN AMERICAN WOMAN LIVING IN THE MIDDLE EAST
I will probably keep adding to this. It's hard to extrapolate to "the Middle East" so this is Jordan-specific.
- •No headscarves#1 question I get - no, I don't have to cover my hair in Jordan. It would actually be very weird / appropriation-y. This varies wildly between each country in the Middle East
- •Walking at night is safer than LAA bold statement, but whole families are out walking late at night (10, 11pm... And during Ramadan, 2 or 3am). There's also way less petty crime - I've never heard of anyone getting mugged or theft.
- •Catcalling is a thingWhile its more frequent (okay, constant) I think it's less aggressive / less threat of actual action than in the states. I usually shout back and then they scamper away, embarrassed. ((Again this is just Jordan - I've heard catcalling in Egypt is insane.))
- •No red lipstickIt's totally okay to wear a quarter-inch of black eyeliner, but lipstick in anything but neutral will get a lot of raised eyebrows and an exponential increase in catcalling. I was subtly nudged to not wear lipstick to work.
- •Everybody is all up in your business.Are you married? Is he American? Do you have kids? When are you having kids? Are you Christian? What does your family think of you being here? Why aren't you married? You're getting old, you should get married. - literally everyone
- •Dating is not a thing.Most expats are on short, fixed contracts and just trying to hookup. Jordanian guys are all in the first or second generation of going-on-dates (aka not arranged marriages) so it's confusing and nobody knows what they're doing. My boyfriend is a magical unicorn.
- •Cheek kissesI suck at greeting people like this and always feel awkward. Each country tends to have their own kiss pattern (1 right, 3 left in Jordan).
- •Modest is hottest... IshI can wear t-shirts and jeans. I probably wouldn't show my knees or cleavage in public. Also middle eastern women dress ON POINT - this whole LA yoga pants thing is not acceptable. I've found myself dressing more like a grownup.
- •"Ugh, men" is a universal sentiment.Be it a USAID program manager who's lived in 6 countries or a teenage girl in an English program at Zaatari... A well-placed eye roll and "shabaaaab" (boys) will always give a moment of laughter and solidarity.